[Breastfeeding] Figuring Out How to Suck, Swallow, and Breathe

In today’s episode, we talk about about what’s involved in the suck-swallow-breathe coordination your baby needs to figure out in order to nurse. There are a series of elements that have to come together, including muscles, ligaments, nerves, and bones for all of it to work properly! What happens when it doesn’t, and what are some things you can do to help? Dr. Alison Hazelbaker tells us more.

Powered by RedCircle

Listen directly through our website player, or however you usually listen to podcasts.


What we talked about:

  • The tongue tie epidemic, and Alison’s revised position on the matter
  • How does that infant suck-swallow-breathe coordination happen?
  • What elements are involved?
  • Creating attachment from in-utero, and ways to connect
  • Most common factors that can make it difficult for babies to coordinate their sucks, swallows, and breathing
  • The effects of stress during pregnancy
  • How a sedentary life impacts your pelvic floor, and ways to counterbalance it
  • How the birth process affects the suck-swallow-breathe process
  • When a baby is “whompy-jawed”
  • How epidurals can unbalance the pelvic floor and encourage torticollis in the baby
  • Why torticollis may be more prominent in second and subsequent births
  • The effect of Pitocin’s tetanic contractions
  • Epidural effects on the baby’s brain and ability to be awake, get fed, and stay coordinated
  • Why you want your amniotic sac to stay in place as long as possible
  • Reducing the effects of a difficult birth
  • How occupational therapy, craniosacral therapy, and chiropractic adjustments can help
  • Craniosacral therapy for lactating parents
  • Telltale signs that baby has a structural imbalance
  • How quickly should babies be able to properly latch on?
  • Effects of circumcision on the suck-swallow-breathe process


Related resources*:

Related Birthful episodes:



Picture of Dr. Alison Hazelbaker

Courtesy of Dr. Alison Hazelbaker

About Dr. Alison Hazelbaker

Dr. Hazelbaker has been a therapist for over 30 years. She specializes in cross-disciplinary treatment and to that end has taken training in several modalities to best assist her clients. She is a certified Craniosacral Therapist, a Lymph Drainage Therapy practitioner, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Along with craniosacral therapy and lymphatic drainage therapy, Dr. Hazelbaker utilizes botanicals and homeopathy in her lactation practice. Her willingness to address bodyfeeding problems from a variety of perspectives, meeting lactating parents where they are at philosophically, has earned her the respect of her peers and her client population.

She earned her undergraduate degree from New York University, Her master’s degree from Pacific Oaks College (Human Development specializing in Human Lactation) and her doctorate from The Union Institute and University (Psychology, specializing in Energetic and Transformational Healing.)

Her original research on tongue tie, done in 1993, has changed clinical practice both in the USA and abroad. She authored the Assessment Tool for Lingual Frenulum Function (ATLFF) during her master’s degree program. The ATLFF remains the only research-based tongue tie screening process in infants under 6 months. People recognize her as an expert on infant sucking issues and the treatment of same. As an innovator, she invented the Hazelbaker™ FingerFeeder to address these sucking problems.

Dr. Hazelbaker authored multiple monographs and articles on lactation theory and management, served on the Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) editorial review board for more than a decade, and reviews monographs, books and DVDs for the JHL and the ILCA Globe.

She speaks on a variety of human development, lactation management, and lactation theory topics, including the use of finger feeding as a therapeutic and clinical strategy and the assessment and treatment of tongue tie.

She recently revised her master’s thesis on tongue tie into a comprehensive book on the condition in 2010: Tongue-tie: Morphogenesis, Impact, Assessment and Treatment. Her doctoral dissertation “Toward a Unified Theory of Healing: a Grounded Theory Study” was nominated for the Marvin B. Sussman Award for Academic Excellence. She is currently revising it into a book.

She is a long-time La Leche League leader, who mothered five children through nursing and has six wonderful grandchildren.

Learn more at alisonhazelbaker.com


Get Your FREE Postpartum Plan!

Sign up to get access to my NEW Postpartum Prep. Plan to help you prepare for life with a newborn! You'll also get updates from me from time to time.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

This post may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

Want more help with sleep? Help preparing for birth?

Schedule a free call to see how we can work together!